Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh continues to be a beacon of the Broward County community. As CEO of Urban League of Broward County, Dr. Smith-Baugh has helped to improve social issues and led a $9 million capital campaign to construct the Community Empowerment Center.
When did you discover that you were being honored as a 2018 African-American Achiever?
I have known about the African-American Achiever event for the entire time I have worked at the Urban League and attended dozens of the ceremonies. Needless to say, I was elated when I received the official call from Ms. Kim Bentley indicating that not only had I been nominated (because that has happened many times before), but this year, I was selected a recipient this year.
Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles?
Women in leadership is an imperative. Women of color bring a different perspective to the leadership roles they play based on their cultural heritage and experiences. I know that I have different experiences that impact my leadership and there are times when those create opportunities and even barriers to access. The resiliency of women of color have always rung through and will always be a unique attribute of how we lead others and gather those around us to move to the next levels in their leadership.
If you could thank any woman in history for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
I would thank my grandmothers. They were never famous from a historical perspective nor will books be written about their accomplishments. My paternal grandmother, Leah Smith, owned businesses (had to partner with men in order to do so) when it was not the norm in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. She was a woman of many talents, and had a strong business mind, but would never be recognized for it because of time she was born. My maternal grandmother, Rosamond Malone, was the only grandparent I ever met, and she was a pillar of strength and without any formal training was a healer and midwife to many women in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. In her later years, she was recognized by the Queen of England for her commitment to community and women and children. These women planted seeds that are growing oak trees in their families today.
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Do not sweat the small stuff! I know it is such a cliché now, but really when you are younger, you are so obsessed with getting it right. Frankly, it may never be right or good enough, but I would tell my younger self just do what you know is right and let the rest fall into place. Be ready to pay the consequences, good or bad, for your decisions. Choose well because you may never get another chance.
Why is it important for seasoned and experienced women to reach back and help younger women?
Frankly, I do not think we do enough of it in truly genuine ways. We often share with individuals the “good” parts of our life and leave the rest behind. I pray constantly that I will allow myself to be appropriately vulnerable so that when people engage with me that they feel they have a real experience. I often say to people ‘I will tell you my own story, the good, the bad and the in-between because short of that you will make something up that may be far worse.’ Therefore, I think it very important that we share our successes and failures – there is always wisdom in failure!
As a successful woman in business, what is your greatest or proudest achievement?
My greatest achievement is the dance balance I have between Germaine the CEO at work and Germaine the COO at home. I often jest with a close circle of other women business leaders that my goal is to end with the same husband and that my children will care for me in my old age. I am very cognizant that all these accolades will eventually fade and what will matter are the authentic relationships I build with others along this journey called life.
If you had one super power to use in business or community work, what would it be?
My one super power would be influence people’s behavior for the ‘goodwil’ of others. Our society is far too selfish and we want when we clearly have enough. It’s time to say “enough” and look to the brother or sister to your left or your right, and reach out a helping hand.